I had a conversation with a fellow mom tonight about how she feels like a total failure as a mother sometimes. A stay at home mom after many years of working outside the home, she said, it isn’t exactly what she expected. She said that when you are looking at it from the perspective of a working parent, you always think of all the things you would do and how amazing being at home with your children would be… And it is. Sometimes. But other times you question your every choice and reaction. You doubt your qualifications, and wonder whether or not these little angels (devils?) might be better off being raised by wolves! You struggle to balance between caregiver, comforter, disciplinarian, and referee! If you can get through the day without ripping your hair out or cracking a bottle of something at noon, sometimes that’s just got to go in the win column!
We all have these ideals of what kind of parents we will be. We dream of giving our children so much endless love and support, guidance, and instruction that they will inevitably be amazing, well balanced folk. The fact of the matter is that kids are not always what we want them to be. They are people. Human beings just like the rest of us; capable of a wide array of behavioral issues and un-pleasantries. They will challenge us in ways we never knew existed. They will try our patience to the ends of the earth and back again. They disrupt, disobey, disregard, and disrespect. Continually.
And yet… they will learn. They will grow. They will develop into the people they are meant to become, as we all have (many, without proper parental guidance to direct us). We give them as much unconditional love and appreciation as we can muster. Sharing both our patience as well as our exasperation. We allow them to see and learn through their interactions with us that we are people too, that we have feelings just like they do. That all people react better when shown respect and consideration. We teach them to honor our values, and treat others the way they themselves would prefer to be treated. We do all of this and so much more as parents. Stay at home or otherwise. And we question, doubt, and fret over the job endlessly. All while trying to cherish every waking moment of their existence while they are still “ours” to cherish.
So parents, what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t be so hard on yourselves. Love your children. Forgive your inadequacies and see the challenges as opportunities to grow, both as people and as parents. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Stick to your guns. Stand your ground. Never let ‘em see you sweat. And most importantly remember that this too shall pass, and even the hard days will be sorely missed. The best we can hope for in this crazy endeavor is to give our children confidence and to know that we did our best to contribute to a whole new generation of humanity. J